Staying in touch with someone who is in prison is getting easier thanks to modern technology, and it can make all the difference to someone who is cut off from the outside world.
If your friend or loved one is incarcerated in one of the 36 states that use JPay, then chances are that using the system is your best option for communication. However, sending a message via their service isn’t quite as simple as opening up your email account, due to the fact that you’re communicating with someone serving time.
In this article, we’ll run through everything you should know to make sure that your message gets where it is supposed to go. Providing, of course, that the inmate is allowed to receive mail.
What Do You Need to Send a Message?
First, you’ll need to sign up for an account on JPay’s website. To do that, you need to know which state the inmate is in, as well as their Inmate ID number.
In order to send a message, you’ll need to log in to your account, and purchase some JPay stamps. These function like virtual postage stamps, and each stamp allows you to write a message consisting of up to 6000 characters. Longer messages will require another stamp for every additional 6000 characters, and attaching a picture or 30-second VideoGram also costs a single stamp per attachment.
Once you have bought your JPay stamps, you need to click on the Email tab on the website and follow the provided onscreen prompts which will guide you through completing the process.
When Will the Inmate Get Your Message?
In the majority of prisons, an inmate will receive messages between 24 to 48 hours after they are sent. It takes longer because the many prisoners don’t have internet access, and all the messages sent via JPay need to be screened according to the same rules and restrictions placed upon the traditional mail they receive. They are also delivered according to a schedule set by the facility, so it’s not quite as easy as having a notification pop up on your phone.
Depending on the facility, an inmate will be able to access the message at either a JPay inmate kiosk, or via their personal JP5 tablet. They will be able to reply (unless they are serving time in Texas) via email, or in writing. Again, available options will vary from facility to facility, and you can use the JPay Prison Search page to check what is allowed in each prison.
What If You Don’t See the Email Tab?
There are a few reasons why the option to send an email might not show up for you, even if you have purchased JPay virtual stamps. These include:
- The facility they are incarcerated in doesn’t allow emails.
- You’ve selected the wrong inmate from the Home Page drop down menu.
- You entered the wrong inmate when setting up your account.
- The person you’re trying to communicate with has been transferred to another facility.
- The inmate has been banned from receiving emails by the local staff.
What Else Can You Use JPay for?
The most obvious other use for the service is to send money to the inmate, but it’s not the only one. Depending on where they are serving time, and whether or not they have a JP5 tablet, you have a few other options.
If you aren’t able to visit them in person, you may have the option for a video visitation. All you need is a decent internet connection, a webcam, and a microphone. If you have a laptop or smartphone, chances are you’re already set. You’ll need to schedule the video chat via the calendar function on JPay.com. Rates and durations vary, though most of the time you’ll get 30 minutes to talk to one another.
If the inmate has a JP4 or JP5 tablet, you can also purchase various forms of media for them, including music, audio books, and eBooks, as well as a selection of educational games.
Brighten Your Loved One’s Day
If you want to communicate with a friend or relative who is serving time in prison, messaging them via JPay is a relatively simple, if occasionally expensive, way to do it. If they have a JP4 or JP5 tablet, you can make video calls.
Has using JPay made your life better? Let us know about your experiences in the comments below.